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Thousands Gather in Russia to Protest Legislative Elections

ELLEN BARRY
New York Times [1]
December 10, 2011

MOSCOW — Thousands of Russians thronged the center of Moscow on Saturday in a show of defiance against the government of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, one that organizers hoped would become the largest anti-Kremlin demonstration since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Calls for protest have been mounting since parliamentary elections Sunday that domestic and international observers said were tainted by ballot-stuffing and fraud on behalf of Mr. Putin’s party, United Russia. Mr. Putin’s announcement in September that he intended to return to the presidency in the March elections, extending his rule as Russia’s dominant political figure by another six years, appears to have worsened an already sour mood in the country, and many middle-class Muscovites said that this week was a turning point.

Some 35,000 people had pledged on Facebook to attend the Moscow rally, and smaller events were expected in dozens of other Russian cities. At 2:30, the authorities estimated the crowd at 15,000. An hour later, the police warned that a bridge leading to the site was so overloaded with people that it was in danger of collapsing, and said they would clear the bridge.

Standing in the light snow, Yana Larionova, 26, said she was not at all surprised to see crowds choking footbridges to join the demonstration on Bolotnaya Square, many of them wearing white ribbons pinned to their coats.

Full article here [1]